This post is by Zach Hively author of “In the Haus of Broken Toys” and Managing Editor of A Thoroughly Good Blue
With a title as abstract as “A Thoroughly Good Blue” for our class anthology, we’re certain to get lots of folks wondering what, exactly, it means. Even I spent longer than I probably should have pondering the implications of the title.
Somehow, the phrase “A Thoroughly Good Blue” got me thinking about how so much of our writing these days is designed for immediate, speedy, and portable consumption. We’re not meant to dwell on much of it for long. Quick communication is frequently valued more than accuracy or evocation. With all this writing happening every day, the author’s task of capturing the subtleties of precise language grows ever more challenging. Though Oscar Wilde writes of dyed fabrics for the stage, he captures this struggle for precision by declaring that “it is really difficult … to get a thoroughly good blue.”
As writers, it’s our job to capture thoroughly good blues. That is, in our writing, we uncover the shades of voice and tones of experience that define our art and our selves. But just writing in broad strokes of blue isn’t enough. We have to move past the most basic and generic concept of blue to find the perfect shade, the appropriate hue.
Ultimately, I believe that our efforts as students of writing all point to this goal. Studying each week in the birth home of Oscar Wilde, we feel his presence. The fact that his famous phrase matches our pursuits feels, ultimately, fortuitous.